Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Drinking the OSR Kool-Aid

I started the Kingmaker Adventure Path with our Pathfinder game in January. And it was my re-introduction to a hex-exploration game that has really increased my interest in Old School Renaissance gaming.

 For years I would have described myself as a "story" gamer. Not as hardcore as some, to be sure, I have always preferred games that gave you a framework to do your thing in over games that were about a very narrowly focused (often very well designed) thing. I've read lots of the latter, and played a few, and enjoyed them. 

Illusionism, where the GM takes the players' choices and flows with them, all the while telling his own story? I've done it.

Recently I've spent a lot of time reading about and discussing Player Agency, defined as:
"...the feeling of empowerment that comes from being able to take actions in the [virtual] world whose effects relate to the player’s intention...” - Michael Mateas
...and how it impacts RPGs. Although it is a topic that many of the new game authors discuss and incorporate, I was finding that many of the places where I wanted to increase player agency married up nicely with gaming in the late 70's and early 80's.

Now? Now I think that the first decade of gaming has a lot more to offer than we gave it credit for. I spent two and a half decades running away from those days, to find myself back there again. Of course it isn't as simple as just uncrating my old red box and being happy.  There are a lot of thing about those old days that I'm not too fond of.

There are a number of retro-clones and OSR games out there right now, but my current favourite is the Adventurer, Conqueror, King System, or ACKS. Starting with the old Basic edition it adds a lot, most notably trade and domain rules. I'll talk more about ACKS soon.

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